FRIDAY FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Northside, Southside face off in nonconference test

Published 11:29 am Thursday, September 3, 2015

DAVID CUCCHIARA | DAILY NEWS ON THE REBOUND: The Washington football team is looking to bounce back against D.H. Conley tonight following two double-digit-home losses to Havelock and Tarboro.

ON THE REBOUND: The Washington football team is looking to bounce back against D.H. Conley tomorrow following two double-digit home losses to Havelock and Tarboro.

Bruised, battered and beaten, Washington continues to search for an identity on both sides of the ball, as quarter-by-quarter consistency has, so far, eluded the Pam Pack. Off to a 0-2 start, the team’s youth is certainly showing, while the coaching staff scrambles to field a competitive team in what should be considered one of the toughest nonconference slates in 2-A.

Against Tarboro last Friday, a team the Pam Pack defeated 42-7 a year ago, a quick injury to feature back Hykeem Ruffin on the second play from scrimmage stunted the running game early, leaving Clinton Pope and Jarquez Keyes to carry much of the offense. The result was just one touchdown through four quarters, as the Vikings defensive line muffled virtually everything the Pam Pack threw at it.

Ruffin’s injury, diagnosed as a broken leg, will sideline the sophomore for the remainder of the season. And for Washington, the timing couldn’t be worse. The Pack squares off against the high-powered offense of D.H. Conley tomorrow in Greenville.

Without question, Northside has exceeded many preseason expectations through the first two games. Following a solid 28-12 victory over a larger, senior-laden Creswell in Week 1, the Panthers secured a hard-earned 20-12 victory over North Duplin last week.

The ground game has remained consistent, averaging about 6 yards a carry, but it’s been quarterback Jackson Midgette who has provided a spark to the offense. Midgette has completed 10-of-15 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns. He’s shown good mobility in the pocket and connected with receiver Chris Slade seven times.

Head coach Keith Boyd couldn’t have asked for more through the first two weeks, but beginning tomorrow, the road only gets rockier, as the Panthers prepare to face rival Southside in the first of a two-game series.

Like Northside, the Seahawks are also off to a 2-0 start, carried by a deep, run-heavy offense full of talent, as well as a surprisingly solid defense. Southside made its presence known in Week 1 with a 50-0 blowout of North Duplin, followed by a competitive 22-12 victory over 2-A Dixon last Friday. According to head coach Jeff Carrow, the offense has room to grow, but it’s the defense that’s been the story so far, limiting its first two opponents to 97 yards of total offense combined.

Heavily favored entering tomorrow’s rivalry game, Southside is looking to continue its strong start to the season against a Northside team looking to play spoiler.


WASHINGTON (0-2, 0-0 Eastern Plains) AT D.H. CONLEY (2-0, 0-0 Eastern Carolina)

Time: 7 p.m.

Location: Greenville

Forget about last season’s 30-24 Washington victory over D.H. Conley. This time around, two completely different teams take to the gridiron tomorrow.

For a defense that has yet to show signs of replicating last season’s historic performance, the Pam Pack front seven will get its toughest test of nonconference play against the Vikings. Conley is averaging more than 55 points per game through its two first contests with wins over Southeast Raleigh and Ayden-Grifton.

With Brian Paschal serving out his suspension for recruiting/undue influence violations, the offensive catalysts for interim head coach Nate Connor have been running back Immanuel McLawhorn and flex Duce Fuller. McLawhorn rushed for 146 yards against Ayden-Grifton in Week 2, while Fuller pieced together a nice balanced performance — 89 rushing yards, 77 receiving yards, three total touchdowns.

This Week 3 matchup should come down to whichever team can score the most points. While strong offensively, Conley has also given up 45 points per game on defense.



NORTHSIDE (2-0, 0-0 Eastern Plains) VS. SOUTHSIDE (2-0, 0-0 Eastern Plains)

Time 7 p.m.

Location: Bing Mitchell Stadium

PINETOWN — The Seahawks may have suffered a temporary power outage at The Nest last week, but there certainly won’t be any shortage of electricity in this matchup between two undefeated conference and county rivals.

Entering as underdogs, Northside will showcase its new air attack against a Southside defense that has allowed just one completion in two games, anchored by defensive back Zikajah Crawford and linebacker Hunter Sparks.

Northside has had great success in stopping the run so far, but will undoubtedly face its toughest test to date with a backfield of Lawrence Brown, Dylan Lewis and Matt Baxter, a trio that has combined for 414 yards and six touchdowns in two games.

The Panthers will look to Midgette and running backs Tyrece Taylor, James Barrow and Chris Slade to carry the offensive load tomorrow.